Within Frames: Perspectives on Native-American Heritage
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Research and Technology
1.4 Identify topics; ask and evaluate questions; and develop ideas
leading to inquiry, investigation and research.
2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding
b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises
or images from the literary work.
c. Justify interpretations through sustained use of examples and
2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Exhibit careful reading and insight in their interpretations.
b. Connect the student's own responses to the writer's techniques
and to specific textual references.
Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View
Grades 9 - 12
Students identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.
Grades 9 and 10
2.8 Evaluate the credibility of an author's argument or defense
of a claim by critiquing the relationships between generalizations
and evidence, the comprehensiveness of evidence, and the way in
which the author's intent affects the structure and tone of the
Grades 11 and 12
3.4. Analyze ways in which poets use imagery, personification,
figures of speech and sounds to evoke readers' emotions.
Grades 11 and 12
2.4 Make warranted and reasonable assertions about the author's
arguments by using elements of the texts to defend and clarify
Grades 9 and 10
1.5 Synthesize information from multiple sources and identify
complexities and discrepancies in the information and the different
perspectives found in each medium (e.g., almanacs, microfiche,
news sources, in-depth field studies, speeches, journals, technical
2.3 a. Marshal evidence in support of a thesis and related claims,
including information on all relevant perspectives.
Understands a variety of messages conveyed by visual media (e.g.,
main concept, details, themes or lessons, viewpoints) Grades 6-8
Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of
informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters,
diaries, directions, procedures, magazines, essays, primary source
historical documents, editorials, news stories, periodicals, catalogs,
job-related materials, schedules, speeches, memoranda, public
Watching The Return of Navajo Boy is a powerful experience.
In this lesson, students are given the opportunity to focus on
the variety of responses the film evokes as they create their
own "film within a film," learn about cultural expression, and
engage in discussion and reflective writing activities.
This lesson's objectives are for the student to
analyze the varied reactions to key issues
portrayed in the film.
To assess students' understanding of the above learning objectives,
teachers may rate students on the quality of their written summarizations,
their presentations and their participation in group discussions.
learn how media can function as a tool for examining social
and political mechanisms for change.
create a video presentation that synthesizes classmates'
responses to various elements of the film.
Time Two to three 40- to 50-minute
Materials and Teacher Prep
Videotape The Return of Navajo Boy
Drawing and writing supplies
Bookmark the following Web sites:
The purpose of this activity is for students to respond to poetry
and share their responses with each other.
1. Share the following poems regarding language and identity
with the students.
My Language Is My Home
In my mother tongue
my hatred is sanguineous,
my love soft.
My innermost soul
is in balance
with my language.
The closeness of it
caresses my hair.
It has grown
together with me,
has taken root in me.
can be painted over
but not detached
the structure of my cells.
If you paint
a foreign language
on my skin,
my innermost soul
The glow of my feelings
will not get through
the blocked pores.
There will be
a burning fever
rising in me
looking for a way
to express itself.
Pirkko Leoporanta-Morley in Minority Education: From
Shame to Struggle
Broken arrowheads from long ago
Children dig them up
Bones of horse and buffalo
Whose lives have ended
Shot or run off a cliff to
Land on the hard stones below
Or just trapped
All the buffalo are gone forever
Yelling and screaming now they are gone
-Christi Moeller in Girl Power by Hillary Carlip
Scroll down the following page to this poem:
"Culture Is an Illusion, the Stronger the Illusion, the Stronger
the Magic" http://www.indians.org/welker/poetry.htm#01
2. Ask the students to choose one of the poems and write a response
3. Divide the students into pairs and ask them to share their
responses with each other.
4. Ask for student volunteers to share their responses to the
poems with the class.
5. Lead a class discussion based on the following questions:
How does each of these poems describe identity?
FOCUS FOR VIEWING
What message do the poets convey regarding loss of
culture, language and identity?
What do you think the poets were trying to say in
In this film various members of the Cly family describe their
lives and culture. Encourage the students to focus on how culture
is expressed in our everyday lives.
Some important questions to discuss prior to viewing the film
include the following:
How do people express their culture?
Media can function as a mechanism for social and political change
by providing an opportunity to explore issues in a variety of different
ways. By exploring the impact this film had on the Cly family, students
gain firsthand knowledge of the power of a story to effect change
in the world. Encourage students to think about the effect this
film had on larger societal and political issues.
How do children react when their home culture is not
valued in the classroom?
What role does language play in one's identity?
What role do literature and the arts play in the expression
Tell the students to think about the following overarching question
as they watch the production:
What message did this film convey to you?
The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to
reflect on their individual responses to the film.
1. Ask the students to spend five to 10 minutes writing about
their response to The Return of Navajo Boy.
2. After the students have finished, divide them into pairs
and ask them to share their responses.
The purpose of this activity is for students to think about
the different ways that people respond to this film.
1. Tell the students that they are going to create a video that
focuses on their classmates' reactions to The Return of the
2. Ask the students to list the various components that were
used to tell the story of The Return of the Navajo Boy.
This list should include the following components:
The story of the first film, Navajo
Ask the students to discuss how the filmmaker, Jeff Spitz, made
use of all these elements to weave a new story. Ask the students
also to analyze the success of his efforts in capturing the different
The story of how the return of Navajo Boy impacted
the story being told in The Return of the Navajo Boy
The impact of the the film's return on the individuals
featured in The Return of the Navajo Boy
The photographs taken of the Clys
The individual reactions to the photographs
Episodes of daily living activities
3. Divide the students into small groups. Each group should
focus on creating a scene. The scene may be based on any topic
in the film and should be created in a way that best captures
students' responses. This might be done by interviewing students,
by featuring student art, by incorporating different types of
music, by filming students' written words or by any other suitable
means of artistic expression. Encourage the students' creativity.
Each group will have responsibility for a different segment of
the production. These segments might include scriptwriters, film
editors, props and costumes, lighting, narrators, and so on.
4. Have the students explore some of the topics in the film,
including, but not limited to, the topics below. To enhance the
production, students may want to conduct further research on the
5. Film small-group scenes.
Film industry exploitation
Uranium mining on Indian lands
Adoption of American Indians
Plight of Navajos today
The power of media to educate, inform and unite
6. As a class, watch each group's scene. Brainstorm ideas on
how to take these scenes to create a coherent film that showcases
a variety of responses to the film. In essence, create your own
"film within a film."
7. If possible, share this film with others in the school and
the community. Create an ongoing discussion forum to provide opportunities
to respond to the film. This might be in the form of a book to
be passed around after viewing in which comments can be written
and read, postings on a class Web site, or a continuation of the
8. After viewing the film and listening to audience reactions,
ask each student to write a review of the "film within a film."
Create a class collection of these reviews to use as a shared
resource. Visit the following Web site, which contains reviews
of Return of Navajo Boy at http://www.navajoboy.com.
Note: If video cameras are not available, students can write
a script or create a storyboard that captures their responses.
The purpose of this activity is to explore the different
ways American Indians are portrayed in the Web sites.
1. Ask the students to choose a Web site on Navajo culture.
2. Visit the Web site at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ecubbins/webcrit.html,
which describes how to evaluate and critique Web sites about American
3. Ask the students to critique the Web site they have selected
based on the categories given and respond to the following question
Do you think this is a valid way to evaluate
Web sites about American Indians?
The purpose of this activity is to explore representations of
American Indians in film.
1. Choose a film from the following Web site and discuss how
American Indians are portrayed in it. http://iserver.saddleback.cc.ca.us/div/la/neh/films.htm
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